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Soloists

In recent years, the Parkdale Orchestra has been delighted to welcome the following soloists:

Double Bass (Nov 2012, Apr 2018)

Malcolm Armstrong

Canadian double bassist Malcolm Armstrong, principal bass of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, began his musical career in his native town of Ottawa. Malcolm benefited greatly from his musical family, including Angus Armstrong (conductor) and Daniel Armstrong (double bassist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) - whom you will see on stage with Malcolm.

He studied at the University of Ottawa and at the Glenn Gould school in Toronto and since 2016 has played with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. Malcolm is a recipient of numerous awards and honours including the National Youth Orchestra of Canada’s Award of Excellence. Malcolm has toured extensively in Canada and has toured to South Korea with the Orford Arts Centre Orchestra. In addition to his performing duties, Malcolm is a devoted teacher and has coached at educational programs such as the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy and Orkidstra. Malcolm currently teaches privately in Honolulu where he spends his free time in the ocean befriending turtles and other wildlife.    Mar 2018

Double Bass (Feb 2008, Feb 2011, Apr 2018)

Daniel Armstrong

Daniel Armstrong grew up in a musical household in Kitimat, B.C. An early photograph shows him and his brother Angus strumming ukuleles together. His career as a bass player began in 1959 when his father bought a plywood Kay bass from the local hardware store. Though his father intended the bass for the high school pep band, Dan was soon standing on a chair playing along with his favourite record by the Kingston Trio. Before he finally took a lesson on the instrument in his third year at the University of British Columbia, he had tried his hand at jazz in high school and developed a love for many other musical forms.

Graduating from UBC, Dan went on to earn a Master's degree from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Homer Mensch. He joined the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in 1979 and was appointed Assistant Principal bass of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in 1983. In addition to orchestral playing, Dan performed with Winnipeg's Music Inter Alia. In 1995 Dan joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, after twelve seasons with the Milwaukee Symphony.

Dan’s musical accomplishments are numerous.  He was a founding member of both the period instrument ensemble Tafelmusik and Milwaukee’s contemporary music ensemble Present Music. He has performed as a soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (including performances of his own compositions and arrangements).  He has been featured as soloist and chamber music collaborator on CBC Radio and WFMT Chicago, and on recital programs at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.  He is a frequent performer on MusicNOW, the Chicago Symphony's contemporary music series and he is a member of the Jason Seed Elixir Ensemble, a “jazz-rock-folk-classical-world-new music group,” which recently won an Independent Music Award for a CD in the jam band category. Dan Armstrong plays on a 1731 Camillo Camilli double bass.

Clarinet (Nov 2017)

Shauna McDonald

Shauna McDonald began her clarinet study with Stephen Robb in Vancouver, B.C. Her first orchestral experience was with the Delta Youth Orchestra, with whom she performed as soloist. Her musical training includes a Bachelor degree from McGill University with Robert Crowley, and a Master’s Degree with honours in Performance with Larry Combs at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. Shauna later joined the Ottawa Symphony as principal clarinetist in September 2008, at the same time becoming a member of the clarinet faculty at the University of Ottawa. She also performs frequently with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and is a member of numerous chamber groups such as L’Ensemble Prisme, the Ayorama and Bel Canto woodwind quintets and the Harmonious Pigs Trio. Shauna teaches clarinet privately, and coaches the Senior Wind Ensemble at the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy. As a soloist, Shauna has appeared with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra and the Deep River Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed and recorded with Les Violons Du Roy, The National Youth Orchestra of Canada, L’Orchestre de la Francophonie, Thirteen Strings and L’Orchestre Symphonique du Gatineau.

Steel Pan (Feb 2017)

Jean-Sébastien Lacombe

Jean-Sébastien "J-S" Lacombe began his study of percussion as a steel pan player at age 12, under the masterful tutelage of Ashton Hughes and Carlyle John-Baptiste. His study of this National West-Indian instrument led him to Trinidad, where he twice competed in the prestigious Panorama Competition with one of the top steelbands in the country, the BWIA Invaders. He began his study of concert percussion in the year 2000 at the University of Ottawa, where he studied with Ken Simpson, Jonathan Wade, and Ian Bernard. He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in Performance, and obtained a master's degree a few years later. He has received numerous awards for performance excellence; in 2004, he was awarded the NAC Orchestra Bursary, and won the University of Ottawa Concerto Competition in both 2004 and 2006. He was a member of the 2005 National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and a Tanglewood Fellow in 2006. He has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and many others. He joined the National Arts Centre Orchestra in 2006 as a regular extra. One year later, he would premiere the pan on the NAC stage as a soloist alongside world-renowned Evelyn Glennie. He retired from the orchestra in 2009 to pursue other interests. In 2015, he performed the Canadian Premiere of Jan Bach's "Concerto for Steel Pan and Orchestra" with the Timmins Symphony.    Aug 2016

Oboe / English Horn (Nov 2016)

Anna Petersen

Anna Petersen is a recent addition to the National Arts Centre Orchestra, joining it as the Second Oboe in 2013. She earned her Bachelor of Music Degree and Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. Before coming to Ottawa, Anna held positions as Principal Oboe of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra / Symphoria from 2009-2013 and as B-contract Second Oboe of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 2006 to 2009. She has enjoyed guest appearances as Principal Oboe with the Pittsburgh and Detroit Symphony Orchestras, The Florida Orchestra, the Lake Placid Sinfonietta, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom she made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2013.

In addition to her orchestral career, Anna is an active soloist and chamber musician. She has soloed with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, Symphoria, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Lake Placid Sinfonietta, and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra among others. She has also been a fellow at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, a participant at the Masterclass Program at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and a performer at the Skaneateles and Bravo! Vail Valley Music festivals. Also an experienced teacher, Anna was the Adjunct Professor of Oboe at Syracuse University's Setnor School of Music from 2010-2012, and during and the summers of 2012 and 2015, she was a coach at the Bennington Chamber Music Conference in Bennington, Vermont.

Trumpet (May 2007, Apr 2012, Nov 2016)

Karen Donnelly

Following three successful seasons, as Acting Principal Trumpet of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Karen Donnelly was unanimously appointed Principal Trumpet in October 1999. A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Karen became hooked on the trumpet in her elementary school band program. While she displayed a natural ability for the instrument, she started her formal training much later at the University of Regina.

After completing her Bachelor of Arts in Music, Ms. Donnelly received a major bursary from the Saskatchewan Arts Board to continue studying at McGill University (Montreal) where she completed a Master's of Music in 1991. While in Montreal, she quickly became one of the most sought-after trumpet players in the area, performing with premier ensembles such as the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Les Violons du Roy and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens Orchestra.

From 1994-1996, Karen played with Orchestra London (Canada) as Principal Trumpet and performed with many ensembles in southwestern Ontario during this period.

Since her arrival in Ottawa in 1996, Karen has also kept a busy chamber music schedule performing many concerts for CBC (French and English) and with the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival. As a member of the Rideau Lakes Brass Quintet, she is very active in giving educational concerts and workshops in schools. Also a member of the large ensemble, Capital BrassWorks, Karen is very involved in the organization and presentation of this group's highly successful concert series held in Ottawa. The Capital BrassWorks recently released its second CD featuring Ms. Donnelly as soloist.

In addition, Ms. Donnelly performs as soloist with groups varying from professional orchestras, to community amateur orchestras, to many local school bands. The NAC commissioned a work written by NAC Composer in Residence Gary Kulesha, to specially feature Karen. In Novemeber 2005, the NAC Orchestra toured Saskatchewan and Alberta performing this work throughout each province. Ms. Donnelly has also been soloist with ensembles such as Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra London, McGill Symphony Orchestra, Hannaford Silver Street Band, Maple Leaf Brass Band, the Regina Catholic Schools Honour Band, just to name a few.

Teaching continues to be an important part of Karen's schedule. Through the NAC Music Education programs, Karen has given master classes in Switzerland, Mexico, the United States and in Canada from coast to coast and currently works as a volunteer teacher in Ottawa's "Orkidstra" program for inner-city school children.  Ms. Donnelly joined the teaching staff of the Music Department of the University of Ottawa in 2002.

Viola (Apr 2016)

Jethro Marks

Jethro Marks is a Canadian/American classical violist. He is the founding violist of the Zukerman Chamber Players and the Principal Violist of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. Jethro was born in Vancouver into a musical family, and began studies on the violin as a child. He made his solo debut at the age of 17 with the Loudoun Symphony in Virginia, performing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. Soon after he switched his focus to the viola, and began viola studies with Atar Arad at Indiana University. In 1998 he began studies with Pinchas Zukerman at the Manhattan School of Music. Throughout his career, Jethro has won the Kuttner Quartet Competition, the Indiana University Concerto Competition, and the Manhattan School of Music Concerto Competition.

As a chamber musician, Jethro Marks has performed at prestigious festivals around the world including Ravinia, Aspen, Tanglewood, Santa Fe, Mostly Mozart, and the BBC Proms. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and the Royal Albert Hall, and has collaborated with artists including Itzhak Perlman, Michael Tree, Yefim Bronfman, and Lynn Harrell. With the Zukerman Chamber Players, he has performed over 40 concerts around the world and recorded two CDs since 2003, in addition to touring with that group through the U.S., Canada, South America, and Europe in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. He has also recorded chamber music by Brahms, Dvorak, and Mozart under the Altara label. In January 2007, Marks performed the World Premiere of Steven Gellman's Viola Concerto with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra to critical acclaim. More recently, he performed the Malcolm Forsyth Concerto (with cellist Amanda Forsyth) in 2014. Jethro Marks is a frequent collaborator with Ottawa pianist Mauro Bertoli, and plays numerous recitals throughout Canada. He recently joined the School of Music at the University of Ottawa last fall.

Piano (Feb 2016)

Risa Tonita

Risa Tonita is currently finishing her Master of Music in Piano Performance at the University of Ottawa under the guidance of Frédéric Lacroix. As a very energetic performer, Risa seeks to inspire audiences to explore music from their own personal angles. As a very versatile musician, she accompanies two choirs at Notre Dame Cathedral, collaborates with singers, is part of the Amico Piano Quartet (APQ), is a frequent guest member of the Parkdale United Church Orchestra, and maintains a small studio of both piano and voice students.


Risa thrives on the challenge of learning solo piano repertoire, and is thrilled to be performing Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F tonight. Although she spends much of her time studying and practising the piano, Risa loves to sing and is very enthusiastic about her private voice lessons with Cara Gilbertson. Moreover, her experience in theatre, dance and movement contributes to her ability to play in character with almost any style of classical music. In her spare time, Risa loves spending it with her family, snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains, or playing Hand and Foot, Dutch Blitz, Monopoly, Taboo, and Balderdash.

Fiddle (Nov 2015)

Louis Schryer

Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario, Louis has been playing the “fiddle” since the age of eight years, or perhaps we should say the violin, since he did complete his “classical” training on that instrument, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Ottawa in 1994. His “fiddle” achievements, however, appear to override all: eight-time Canadian “Open Fiddle” Champion (the youngest player ever to win this competition at the age of eighteen years!), four-time Canadian “Grand Masters” Champion, and the four-time consecutive winner—a first in Canada—of the acclaimed Pembroke Fiddle Competition.


Next to his two daughters, Chelsey and Kaitlyn, who are both accomplished fiddle-players and step-dancers in their own right, Louis’s greatest love is teaching and mentoring musicians young and old, as he continues to do after more than twenty-five years as a high school teacher in his present home of Chapeau, Quebec, and on the well-established country-fiddlers’ concert circuit. With four CDs to his credit (the first two recorded with the help of his talented brothers), Schryer’s reputation continues to grow, enhanced further by his noteworthy television appearances on Regional Contact (CJOH-Ottawa), the Annual Heart Institute Telethon (CBC-Ottawa), and the Adrian Clarkson Show (CBC-TV), to name only a few.


Cello (Feb 2015)

Daniel Wade

Fifteen-year-old Daniel Wade started cello lessons at the age of 6 with Anne Contant, and at eight years of age was accepted into the Gatineau Conservatory of Music.  In 2011, he won Third Prize at the national level of the Canadian Music Competition, and was winner of  the Bravissimo Competition of the Conservatory  in 2012 and 2014.  In addition, Daniel has performed in numerous masterclasses led by cellists Hélène Gagné, Mineo Hayashi, Ella Rundle and David Hutchenreuther, and by violinist Yehonatan Berick.  He is aso the cellist of “Trio Neutrino,” and with this piano trio has given recitals at the Argentinian Embassy, the Egyptian Embassy and the Young String Performers Foundation Series.


In the past three summers, Daniel has studied at the Camp Musical des Laurentides, and most recently, was chosen to partake in the junior program of Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra in the spring and summer of 2014.  Besides the cello, Daniel is also an accomplished drummer and has represented his school at the Secondaire en Spectacle competition for the Outaouais winning in both 2011 and 2013.  He is the drummer of the Conservatory Jazz Ensemble. In his spare time, Daniel enjoys tennis, cycling and cross-country skiing (especially in Gatineau Park).    Feb 2015

Violin (Nov 2014)

Natasha MacDonald

Natasha MacDonald received her first violin as a Christmas present from her grandpa at the age of 5. She was then enrolled in the National Capital Suzuki School here in Ottawa, and took lessons with Judy Olmstead-O’Regan. After completing the music program at Canterbury High School, she went on to study with David Thies-Thompson at the University of Ottawa; graduating in May 2014 with a BMus specializing in Music Education.

Natasha spent many years in the OYOA, and had the privilege of being Concert Master of the OJYO under the direction of Angus Armstrong, before moving on to play with the OYO. She was also a member of the University of Ottawa Orchestra during her undergraduate degree.

After two years of teaching privately at the Nepean School of Music, Natasha realised her passion for teaching! She is now completing her Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa.   Nov 2014

Trombone (May 2009, Apr 2010, Feb 2013, Apr 2013, Nov 2014)

Angus Armstrong

Angus is a graduate of McGill University, graduating with High Distinction in trombone performance in 1979. He studied with Ted Griffith (Bass trombone - Montreal Symphony).  While in Montreal, he played with various groups, including the McGill Symphony Orchestra, McGill Wind Ensemble, Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec, le Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal, l'Orchestre des Jeunes du Québec, and the Montreal and Québec Symphony Orchestras, amongst others. He was also the lead trombonist of the McGill University Senior Jazz Band.

In 1981, after studying in Toronto and Chicago with Gordon Sweeney of the Toronto Symphony, and Arnold Jacobs and Frank Crisafulli, of the Chicago Symphony, Angus moved to Ottawa, accepting the post of trombonist with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Band, a position he held until 1993.

Since moving to Ottawa, Angus has performed with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and is a member of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. He is an active member of the freelance community in and around the National Capital Region, where he plays in groups of all different musical genres.

Angus is the trombone instructor at the Conservatoire de Musique de Gatineau, as well as Professor of Trombone at Carleton University. As well as a performer, Angus is also active as an arranger and composer, and has written and arranged music for television and radio. He has also served as adjudicator for various music festivals over the years.  

Angus has been the Musical Director of the Ottawa Junior Youth Orchestra, a large ensemble made up of young musicians from in and around Ottawa, since 1995.   Angus' other conducting commitments include the Parkdale Community Orchestra, and the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra.

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